by Morris Berman


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Destiny by Morris Berman

Who among us has never wondered whether our lives could be completely different? What exactly could we change, if we could? From the poetry of Robert Frost to the blockbuster cinema of "Back to the Future," the notion of "what if?" holds an almost obsessive fascination over us. Are we shaped by fate, or by conscious choice?

"Destiny" is a series of three interrelated novellas that revolve around a single theme: Is it possible, as an act of will, for an individual to change what appears to be his or her fate? Can one deliberately modify the ingrained patterns of one's life, and thereby alter its course? In the case of each of these tales, the central character undertakes to do this, and in each case the outcome is radically different.

The path of the protagonist of the first story, "La Vita Nuova," is an occult one, involving meditation, parallel universes, time travel, and a training in Sufi out-of-body experiences. Jason Green, a rather timid librarian in New York City, finally gets the life he wanted, but it comes with a catch, one he cannot seem to resolve.

In the second story, "The Observer," Irene Davis is a talented artist who has spent her life keeping everyone at a distance. She wakes up on her fortieth birthday to discover that she is single, friendless, and devoid of any real meaning in her life. In the course of working with a therapist she begins to explore the possibilities for turning this around.

The final story, "The Seven Deadly Sins," revolves around the life of a high school social science teacher, George Crystal, who unexpectedly writes a best-seller and subsequently retires to a small village in England. From this vantage point, he decides to "purify" his life by working through the Seven Deadly Sins--Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony, and Lust--one by one. After some initial success, the project starts to go awry, and then takes an unexpected turn when George falls in love with another American expatriate.

The fact that there are three separate, and fundamentally different, answers to the central question of the book finally lends it a philosophical or existential dimension, one that propels the reader to reflect on his or her own destiny, and what the possibilities are for having the life we really want.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781456531843
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 03/15/2011
Pages: 270
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)

About the Author

Morris Berman is a poet, essayist, social critic, and cultural historian. He has written ten books and more than one hundred articles, and has taught at a number of universities in Europe, North America, and Mexico. He won the Governor's Writers Award for Washington State in 1990, and was the first recipient of the annual Rollo May Center Grant for Humanistic Studies in 1992. In 2000, "The Twilight of American Culture" was named a "Notable Book" by the New York Times Book Review. During 2003-6 he was Visiting Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and Visiting Professor in Humanities at the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico City, during
2008-9. "Destiny" is his first work of fiction.

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